“The only place you’ve got to go after St Ives is the ocean”
Henry Hussey has been creating deeply personal and emotionally raw artworks for several years, mainly through the paradoxically laboured medium of textiles. Whether through a steadily growing vocabulary of quasi-mythological symbols, or in embroidered lines of text extracted from performative situations, he has sought to create expressions of perceived truth in response to aggravating relationships and events from his life.
The work has long framed these aggravating experiences dichotomously, with clear lines drawn between an external antagonist and the artist whose reactions they provoke. However, Hussey has recently begun to acknowledge his own role in events, something to which he had previously paid little attention.
The self is part of the problem but—as this exhibition’s title suggests—it cannot be escaped. Whether because there is nowhere left to run, or simply due to personal growth, sooner or later acknowledgement must come. “You Can’t Outrun This” is a showdown.
In preparation for new inquiries that will look outwards to broader social and politics issues—as well as toward new materials and uses of space—the exhibition will present a saturation point in the Hussey’s ongoing self-confrontation. This standoff between the artist, himself, and his internalized antagonists will comprise works created in 2015-16, and will include an unprecedented number of pieces displaying his own image—one last, long look in the mirror.
At the centre of it all will be a triptych of works—Eclipse (2016), Locking Horns (2016) and Reformation (2016)—exhibited together for the first time. Each of these textile works has at its core an image of violence and defiance—accompanied in the former two parts by visions of toxic intimacy—where embroidered quotations and symbols with their roots in diverse artistic traditions simultaneously provide both context and shifting points of focus.
While pieces such as The Passing (2016) deal with purely personal themes, and are psychologically suggestive in their treatment of the figures they portray, other works, such as The Guardian (2015), incorporate a complex array of historical imagery, textual clippings, stylized figures, and humorous personal history to create an image of the past where the possibility of locating any fixed perspective is suitably difficult.
There are, besides, a number of the artist’s recent, untitled glass sculptures. Contorted busts in imperfect black glass, these forms are the product of more violent and spontaneous processes than the Hussey’s textile works, and allow a vision not just of his image, but also of his action. Intended to stand away from the wall, they signify one of many ways the young artist is bidding farewell to the tenets of his practice thus far, and venturing into new, previously unexplored spaces.
Ned Carter Miles, 2017